Brandon skip hopeful about provincials

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

WINNIPEG - A year ago, the Brandon squad earned a provincial berth without their skipper.

This year, Rob Fowler — who was in Hawaii last year while his teammates were taking care of business for him — was forced to play his first two games of the Manitoba Curling Tour Championship in Morris without his third, Allan Lyburn, and struggled.

But they improved enough when Lyburn returned from a funeral that they earned one of three spots in the men’s provincial championship available through the MCT before the final started.

“They did a better job playing without me than we did playing without Allan,” Fowler joked from Morris before edging Thistle’s Randy Dutiaume 4-3 in the final. “We had Ross Granger playing lead, with the lead (Derek Samagalski) moving up to second and the second (Richard Daneault) moving up to third, so that changes your dynamic completely. We didn’t play that well the first two days, but picked it up when Allan came back.”

Fowler, who earned $2,500 for winning the MCT Championship, will be making a second straight appearance as a skip at the Safeway Championship in Dauphin, Feb. 8-12.

“Any time you get a spot in the provincials, it feels good,” said Fowler, who will make his 11th trip overall. “That was one of our goals — not only to get in but to contend for the title. We gave it a good shot last year, just fell short on the Saturday.”

Fowler’s squad earned the berth as the top eligible team at the championship. Because Fowler won the MCT title, Deer Lodge’s Sean Grassie got in despite failing to qualify in Morris as the top two points-getters on the MCT circuit also get trips to the provincials.

Deer Lodge’s William Lyburn, who lost a quarter-final in Morris, had his spot locked up before the championship started.

Dutiaume pocketed $1,500.

CAREY CLINCHES: On the women’s side, Morden’s Chelsea Carey clinched a berth into the women’s provincials when her foursome defeated Fort Rouge’s Darcy Robertson 6-5 in a quarter-final Sunday morning.

Carey bounced back from a loss to Jennifer Jones in the Canada Cup final in Cranbrook, B.C., last weekend. She went on to defeat Fort Rouge’s Cathy Overton-Clapham 5-4 in the MCT final to defend her title and earn $2,500.

“It didn’t take us long to get over that loss (in B.C.),” Carey said from Morris. “The frustrating part was that we did not play well in the final. But we had a great week and got a lot out of that, and learned a lot from it.”

Carey was the odds-on favourite to earn the trip to the Manitoba Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Portage la Prairie, Jan. 25-29, when the weekend started because she was so far ahead in the points race.

“There was no pressure since we qualified on Saturday and, since we got the provincial spot, everything else, like winning a few dollars, is gravy,” said Carey, supported by third Kristy McDonald, second Kristen Foster and Lindsay Titheridge.

Overton-Clapham won $1,500.

NORTHERN BERTH: Rae Hainstock beat Sam Antila 10-5 in an all-Thompson regional final in Gillam to punch his ticket to the Safeway Championship, too.


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